Relief after woman gets care package for her sick mother

Relief after woman gets care package for her sick mother

8 August 2018

THE daughter of an elderly Ardglass woman with Alzheimer’s who injured herself in a fall has spoken of her relief that a care package is finally in place for her mother.

Roisin Curran had been in constant contact with social workers in a bid to secure help for the 86 year-old after the fall in her house — but it took a total of 10 weeks.

Margaret McConvey was discharged on the same day she attended the Downe Hospital on May 24 after receiving “excellent” care in the Rapid Assessment Unit. 

“My mum had broken a bottom vertebrae,” explained Roisin. “She was X-rayed and deemed fit to go home that day because they were only able to give her pain relief.”

The family was offered a care package, recommending four visits a day from care workers, but despite numerous phone calls nothing was put in place.

“The social worker said he emailed the agency twice a day, every day, but nobody offered to take up the work,” explained  Roisin. “Why does the South Eastern Trust not employ people themselves to do this work?

“I am relieved that after contacting the Recorder that something is now in place twice a day. Obviously me and my other family members were taking turns to see my mother but she does need special care.

“What about the person who has no family?” asked Roisin. “Do they get left behind? It is alarming. I remain worried about other elderly people in similar situations who don’t have someone to advocate on their behalf.”

Roisin said she believed that if the health trust employed the care workers they needed directly it could help avoid delays.

“Of course it doesn’t help when we have no Assembly or Health Minister to assist the situation,” she added.

A Trust spokeswoman confirmed on Monday that Mrs McConvey’s service with the organisation’s domiciliary care team was due to start the following day and that a key worker had been in touch.

The news has been welcomed by South Down MLA Colin McGrath who was helping the family, but he insisted questions still needed answered.

“There are too many questions arising from the decision to medically discharge from hospital an 86 year-old woman who had complex needs and with whom it was determined four visits a day at home by carers was needed, yet none were put in place for 10 weeks,” he said. 

“I welcome that after my intervention the required care package has now been sourced after a wait of ten weeks. I do understand the strain that there is on the system. I appreciate that resources are difficult to find, but that does not make this case any easier to comprehend. A 10-week wait is too long.

“There are problems with community care that are systemic – the Trust does not have enough money to give to the care providers who then can’t pay the staff enough wages and then they don’t bid for the work.

“The carers are the salt of the earth and work extra hard and go the extra mile. In this case, no staff could be sourced to complete the work – yet the lady was discharged in her fragile and vulnerable state, leaving a small family to carry the burden of care.”

Mr McGrath said it must be highlighted that this is care that would normally be delivered in a hospital, but deemed safe to deliver at home with appropriate care. In this case, he said the appropriate care was not sourced. 

The MLA added: “This burden, even for a few weeks, is unfair on any family. While I welcome the appropriate closure of this issue, I am wary that it took significant involvement and intervention to resolve it. 

“I will be raising the general systemic issues with the Department of Health to see if they can be challenged and resolved. I am certain that being in an Assembly, raising issues like this from the floor and challenging a sitting Health Minister in an Executive, would make the problem-solving mode appear much quicker.”